The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) knows how to kick off the back-to-school season with a splash, sending out another load of lawsuits to collegians everywhere.
The music-labels' front man sued 762 more file-trading evil-doers, pushing its grand lawsuit total well over 5,000. The focus of the latest batch of lawsuits is once again college students - with the RIAA highlighting 26 schools harboring copyright terrorists. "We'll crack down every dorm room door and hunt the criminals where they live, where they drink beer and where they study," said RIAA President Cary Sherman.
Okay, that's not the exact tack Sherman took in an RIAA statement about the lawsuit binge.
"There have been many exciting developments on the university front in recent months,'' Sherman actually said. ''An ever-expanding number of school administrators, often at the behest of students, are signing partnerships with legitimate online music services. Students get the benefit of high-quality, legal music while schools get to spend less time worrying about their students getting into trouble. It is a win-win for everyone.''
Er, it's not really a "win-win" for everyone. Cornell, for example, which is running a trial of the Napster music service has a mini-revolt on its hands. Students are complaining that the popular iPod does not work with Napster, that Mac users can't access Napster and that the school will force students to add to already exorbitant tuition fees by requiring that they pay for Napster.
Elsewhere, the Tennessee Board of Regents advised schools to steer clear of the costly Napster/RIAA tax. Other editorials in a variety of school papers are calling for their institutions to thoroughly consider the lack of standards in the "legal" music downloading market and the costs of such services before proceeding.
The RIAA is clearly using lawsuits as a method of goading universities toward subscription services that ensure a steady revenue stream for the slow-to-move labels. It's somewhat shocking to think that the US court system will permit a mere $13bn industry to bully the entire higher-education system into entering the music business.
Shouldn't the labels have been more proactive in the online music market instead of now using lawsuits to make up for past failings? Is it really students who should pay the price in this war between the RIAA and consumers at large? We digress.
If you haven't read this proposal on how the music business can save itself before it's really too late, the time to do so is now. ®
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